As I mentioned in a previous post, my roommate and I are doing “Vegan Tuesdays” this semester. Eating vegan is great for animals and the environment, and if you eat fair trade, it’s good for people too! The best part is, even if you’re like me and don’t want to commit to the full vegan lifestyle, you can still make a difference by trying to eat a few vegan meals.
I’ll admit, the first couple Tuesdays were tough, but I had the support of my roommate, and I’ve learned some tricks along the way. Now I look forward to Tuesdays because I can try a delicious new dish for dinner.
The trick I’ve found to a happy Vegan Tuesday is to keep it healthy and delicious. Why healthy? Oreos are vegan, for heaven’s sake, but that doesn’t mean I should spend every Tuesday relying on a package of Oreos for sustenance– no matter how good an idea it seems at lunchtime in the university’s crummy cafeteria. (Seriously, avoid cafeteria food for this. Blech.) Which brings me to the delicious part: If it doesn’t taste amazing, or at least adequate, why would I eat it? This is especially important when trying a new diet, including a vegetarian or vegan one.
So- How to go vegan (even one day out of the week) on a busy schedule? More to the point, how to do it as a poor/limited resources student/post grad?
I start out with a LUNA bar in the morning for protein. I also like the peanut butter Clif bar, and my roommate recommends Lara bars. My roomie goes with a coconut or soy yogurt to get the day going. Add some fruit to that protein and we’re good to go.
Lunch can be a simple and familiar as a PBJ sandwich. Lots of bread contains traces of milk, so you can hunt around for dairy-free, or just shrug at the “trace” of milk and roll with it (which is what I do). More exciting options could include an eggless pad thai, butter/egg-less pasta, a rice, bean, & veggie burrito, or some kind of tofu/tempeh dish (don’t be turned off by tofu; if it is done well, it tastes fine, it just soaks up whatever flavors it’s in). Add fruits & veggies.
A big thing I’ve learned: Graze, graze, graze. I mean it. A handful of raw almonds here, a carrot stick there, peanut/almond butter, fruit- you’re gonna want to eat in between meals. Don’t starve yourself here!
Almond or soy milk is a great source of calcium, and goes great with cooking. I prefer sweetened vanilla almond milk, though unsweetened works just fine mixed with whatever I’m cooking. Another snack idea is a smoothie with fruit and juice or coconut yogurt.
Dinner is a big one: I make sure I plan this out ahead of time, otherwise I get to Tuesday and eating vegan seems like some kind of huge trial (woe is me! if only I could have some CHEESE to survive this day! oh noooooo). Salad obviously worksRice and veggies or veggie soup from a can or scratch or a microwaveable container, whatever time commitment I can handle that day. Couscous or quinoa from a box cooks up in 15 minutes total, and comes in flavors, then I add veggies sauteed in olive oil. I’ve gotten quinoa out of my cafeteria’s salad bar a couple times & put it into a frying pan along with olive oil and some sauteed squash.
Salad bar quinoa and zucchini, sauteed… yum yum!
Those of you with a sweet tooth like me will be fine eating vegan. Check out bakeries for vegan cupcakes, try out a vegan brownie or cookie recipe, or go with sugary junk like smarties and vegan chocolate. Better yet, go without the sugar for the day, it’s good for you! (Then let me know how it goes, because I haven’t quite managed it yet…)
If you’re a student living out of the cafeteria or a working person with only enough time to pour mix out of a box, eating healthy, delicious, vegan food is still totally possible!